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Is that service dog genuine?
Name a good thing, and there’s always somebody around to spoil it.
The latest is service dogs.
Sanctioned by the Americans With Disabilities act, highly-trained service dogs are a lifesaver — literally — for people who are visually impaired, wheelchair bound, have epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder or have one of a list of other legitimate disabilities.
Unfortunately, too many people who simply want to carry their dog with them on a flight have learned to exploit a loophole in the ADA: “Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.”
That has led to scofflaws equipping their dogs with fake “service dog” vests and taking them into places dogs wouldn’t otherwise be allowed, where they demonstrate why that is — having “accidents” on the floor, interacting improperly with other people and generally becoming pests.
In turn, that has led to pressure on legislators to tighten ADA rules, which, in turn, will hurt the people with disabilities the law was designed to protect.
That’s not to say that the emotional support dogs can provide is not legitimate, despite not being recognized by the ADA. Recent changes in disaster policies to allow pets to be rescued along with refugees shows just how important pets are to their owners. Previously, some people perished rather than leaving their pets behind as disasters such as hurricanes approached.
While official employees may have their hands tied when it comes to fake service dogs, there are ways members of the general public can spot them:
* They’re being carried or pushed in a cart.
* They’re not on a leash.
* They’re pulling on the leash.
* They’re parking or whining out of impatience.
* They’re sniffing everything.
* They have indoor “accidents.”
* They steal food.
* They look nervous
* They seek attention
* They’re aggressive.
The ADA allows public accommodations to exclude your animal if it is unable to behave or you are unable to restrain it, and it’s a Class III misdemeanor in Nebraska to use a white cane or service dog if you are not blind.
Other states are enacting even stiffer laws covering fraudulent representation of pets as service animals.
Man’s best friend has proved to be just that many times over the millennia, but humans are doing him no favor by using him in a deceptive manner.